With all the distraction of my new little mare, and my broken elbow, I never did post a report on Ana and Ares very successful 25 mile Set Speed ride at Oktoberfest.
Ana worked hard all summer preparing Ares and herself to enter a 25 miler at the end of the season. It was a big undertaking, especially considering that Ana had only had a couple of months of riding lessons several years ago. So she was quite green herself. But what she really is… is dedicated, and that’s why she and Ares did so well.
She came at least three days a week for the entire summer without fail. We managed to get Ares and Dressy over to the Vivian Forest quite a few times, and even got over to the Ganaraska Forest once (after my injury) to ride with Chrystal. Twelve miles with Chrystal and Grace was a bit of a shock to Ana’s system I suspect. But she enjoyed it and never begged for mercy 🙂
So when the big weekend came, I hitched a ride for Ares, Ana, and me with Chrystal in their big trailer (I’m not allowed to drive in a cast). Ares was a good boy, and loaded up within a couple of minutes despite the strange trailer and strange horses on that trailer.
Once we got there, I checked around to see who exactly would be riding in the 25 the next day. I had planned to ride with them, but obviously that was out. On the start list was Patricia and her terrific Morgan, Flash. He’s a tough old campaigner with well over 3000 miles in OCTRA competitions. Patricia is very experienced, and I was really pleased when she agreed to let Ana ride with her. They went out for a short tour on Saturday to stretch the horses’ legs and all went well.
Ana used my Australian saddle for this ride. We’ve been tinkering around trying to find the right saddle for Ares and have not quite hit on a solution yet. The treeless saddle was starting to give him some back soreness. And a small AP english saddle fit him pretty well, but was unbalancing Ana (looks like one of the panels is a bit crooked). Anyway, Ana had the tack all cleaned up, all her supplies ready, and Ares tail braided up with red electrical tape and red ribbons. Since he’s new at this, we were concerned that he might kick.
On Sunday morning, Ana was pretty excited and nervous, and Ares looked a bit wide-eyed too. But I told Ana just to keep him moving around the camp and stay as close to Flash as she could. They had a couple of jittery moments, but Ana is very good with him, and handled it well.
She told me later that he was really good on trail. He followed Flash quite happily. However, at one point, another horse crowded him from behind, and he did kick. And connected. Poor Ana was mortified when she told me about it. But I pointed out to her that if ever a horse had warning signs posted on his behind, it was Ares. Between the red tape and the red ribbons, it was a very clear message to other riders to stay clear. The horse that was kicked was fine. And was also a bit green, so had been crowding Ares. Which the other rider obviously knew because she was not angry about the kick.
Going out on the second loop, Ares was again quite excited and wanted to move right out. So he definitely wasn’t tired yet. At the finish, his final heart rate was 48 (his resting seems to be 42-44). Unfortunately, he had rubs (not raw, but hair rubbed off) from the front edge of the saddle flaps on both sides, so there’s another saddle that won’t work on him 🙁 He ate and drank all day. And was very good about taking electrolytes. He had a little nap in the afternoon after he’d eaten some hay. And looked pretty pleased with himself thereafter.
Ana would only admit to being just a LITTLE bit tired and sore. Though I did hear through the grapevine that she looked like a creaky arthritic old lady the next morning at work.
Once the speeds were calculated, they had averaged 6.22 mph and a Grade III completion. I thought that was a very respectable finish for a girl and horse who both started the summer as green broke 🙂 And much credit is due Patricia too. Ana enjoyed riding with her a lot, and she and Flash were real steadying influences.
Ana went home with a completion certificate and a nice big ribbon. Her first ever. She is very proud of it. She has big plans for more ribbons next year.